What editor for Robot Framework test cases

Robot Framework home page lists a number of plugins to edit Robot Framework test cases along with Robot’s own editor RIDE. Here is a feedback based on my experience with some of those tools.

RIDE was my first choice four years ago when I started using Robot. We were a team of 20 quality engineers working on Windows machine. Some of us had a technical background and some others were more on the banking business side (we were producing a financial software). RIDE ended up being a good choice, specially for the non-tech people as it hided part of the grammar of test cases: Suite Setup, Tags, Library etc. are all input boxes in a GUI. The ability to launch test cases from Ride was also very handy and kept us away from the command-line (which most of the team was never using). Overall we had a very good experience with RIDE and I would recommend it in a similar context.

TextMate (with its Robot’s bundle) was the editor I switched to when I switched to Mac. There were 2 motivations to move away from RIDE. First one is that RIDE is not very slick on Mac (there are several issues opened for a while) and even install is a bit complicated with WxPython and Python versions collisions. Second motivation was that I joined a more technical company where manipulating the source code of the test was much more frequent (e.g. editing the test case on a remote VM via SSH with vi, merging changes done by another tester…). So I didn’t want anymore to have a GUI layer hiding the source code of the tests. I chose TextMate because it was free, lightweight and worked at once with Robot and SVN. After some time, I started to miss keyword completion and quick access to keywords source code though.

PyCharm is the editor I am using for a couple of weeks now. This time the switch was motivated by some limitation of TextMate (see before) and also by looking over my colleague’s  shoulder who were getting happier and happier with PyCharm. Looks like  JetBrains’s IDE is getting momentum in the Python  community as I hear/read more and more about it. There are currently 2 competing plugins for Robot Framework: Robot Plugin and Intellibot. Both are providing Syntax Highlighting, Code Completion, Jump to Source with some little differences. Best thing is to try them both and see which one fits best.

A side note about this editor topic. when I moved to PyCharm, the amount of syntax checking became one level higher than on previous editor, and I was bothered by the fact that all my TXT files were getting analysed by the plugin (making my non-Robot TXT files uneasy to read). So I changed the extensions of my Robot Test Cases and libraries from .txt from .robot. This way I can configure Robot Plugin to affect only my Robot files and not all the classical text files.



Robot Framework, REST and JSON

The software I am testing with Robot Framework offers a REST API as main entry point. So the question arose of what library to use to write my Robot tests.

First one I tried was the robotframework-restlibrary.

  • Pro: it is test-oriented and works well with Robot
  • Con: some features are missing (inspecting returned headers for example) and there is no community/activity around it (no commit since 2009)

I used it for a couple of weeks for my first tests but once I reached the limitations of the library, I quickly looked for another one.

I bumped into 2 others libraries tagged as “REST” and “Robot Framework”

but none of them seemed to be a good fit for me (not much documentation, not the right level of keywords, not very active…). Though, the second one was built on “requests library” which seemed to be worth looking at.

Requests Python Library is not Robot or Test oriented but the feature support is very wide, the use guide is very detailed and the community looks very active.

Here is a simple example of how to use it with Robot Framework:
(we use jstontest.com that sends back a json object when we do a get)

*** settings ***
Library  Collections
Library  requests
*** test cases ***
    ${result} =  get  http://echo.jsontest.com/framework/robot-framework/api/rest
    Should Be Equal  ${result.status_code}  ${200}
    ${json} =  Set Variable  ${result.json()}
    ${framework} =  Get From Dictionary  ${json}  framework
    Should Be Equal  ${framework}  robot-framework
    ${api} =  Get From Dictionary  ${json}  api
    Should Be Equal  ${api}  rest

The trick then is to create appropriate keywords for often-used command.
For example, to check the value of a property in a one-level json object, we could have this keyword:

    [Arguments]  ${json}  ${property}  ${value_expected}
    ${value_found} =    Get From Dictionary  ${json}  ${property}
    ${error_message} =  Catenate  SEPARATOR=  Expected value for property "  ${property}  " was "  ${value_expected}  " but found "  ${value_found}  "
    Should Be Equal As Strings  ${value_found}  ${value_expected}  ${error_message}    values=false

I am still looking for a good json lib to create/read/update my json objects.
In the meantime I built a collection of keywords like the one mentioned here.

Hope this help some people facing the same kind of starting point (robot + rest + json).
Ping me if you want some more details.